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  • Texas Prisons: Book Review

    Texas Prisons - The Largest Hotel Chain in Texas
    By Lon Bennett Glenn
    Reviewed by Tim Orwig - THE PICKET - June 2001

    There is a strain of downhome American wisdom that is regularly dispensed from small town coffee shops, main street barber shops, courthouse lawns, rural churchyards, roadside beer joints and country music lyrics. Be fair; work hard; don't cheat; help your neighbor - and if need arises, be ready to kick some butt.

    This downhome wisdom says actions should have consequences, and the two should correspond. Good actions should have good consequences; bad actions, bad consequences. But life doesn't always work that way.

    Lon Glenn spurts downhome wisdom like ketchup from a bottle, and you'll find some on just about every one of the 392 pages of the retired warden's memoir of 30 years in "Texas Prisons -- The Largest Hotel Chain in Texas".

    Glenn's got some good stories to tell, and he delivers them with a strong voice and a keen wit. The narrative is aided by dozens of historical photographs (including the graphic crime scene record of inmate Clarence W. Redwine's head resting on a dining room table several feet away from the body from which it had just been detached by an inmate wielding a cane knife).

    There are tales of prison lore -- work bucks, manhunts, heroism, treachery, mayhem, murder, tough convicts and tougher lawmen. There is a glossary of prison slang that gives the reader a better sense of what it means to do hard time. If all this book had were the stories, it would be a good read. But there is more. From the vantage point of his experience, Glenn offers hard analysis of how the Texas prison system reached its current crisis state -- a system on the verge of a breakdown that will make Attica and Santa Fe pale by comparison.

    The chief culprit, according to Glenn, is Judge William Wayne Justice, the federal jurist who dismantled the Texas prison system in the Ruiz v. Estelle case, leaving a prison power vacuum that was quickly filled by violent inmates at the expense of the dwindling ranks of litigation-bound officers.

    Politicians, lawyers and corrupt administrators share the blame for not fixing the troubles, and should be held accountable for what Glenn views as the inevitable collapse of the Texas prison system.

    "I am confident that when future historians write about the decline and fall of the criminal justice system in Texas, the failure of those who were in a position to do something to prevent it will be listed as the principal cause."

    In the course of making his case, Glenn weighs in on capital punishment, rehabilitation, the U.S. "war on drugs," and criminal insanity. (His views on the drug war may surprise you.)

    Dedicated to the officers of Texas Department of Criminal Justice -- Institutional Division, the book includes the 27 tenets of "Glenn's Law." Examples:

    "Always maintain a reverent and respectful appreciation for the tenacity of ignorance."

    "Having someone you trust watching your back makes all things seem possible."

    Lon Glenn has our back. Anyone with a stake in the future of the Texas prison system -- and that's all of us
    -- should read his book.

  • #2
    Hey Cap,

    Welcome to the forum. Now that you are here, why don't you stick around for a while and tell us some of your wisdom! This sounds like an excellent book and I'm going to look for it next time I'm in a bookseller.

    If you have any questions about our BB, feel free to email any of the staff.

    ------------------
    Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have.
    6P1 (retired)
    6P1 (retired)

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    • #3
      Howdy Capt. Jack,

      Never thought I would run into anybody on here from Angleton! I'm born and raised in Lake Jackson... well raised at least.

      TimTejas

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      • #4
        This seems like a interesting place. . .I'll stop in from time to time.. I don't have a lot of time right now, I'm in the middle of a booksigning tour. I'll be at the Huntsville, Texas Prison Museum on June 9th, 10:00 until 2:00 then its back to Lake Jackson on the 16th I'll be at Waldenbooks in the mall from 1:00 until 3:00.

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        • #5
          Hey Capt. I have been with the big HPD for 20 years. The joint used to be a bad place to be, and it did not cost the citizens that much to house them. After Judge Injustice got his hands on the system, he switched things around and it is a nice place to be and cost the state a bundle. The feds have a way of ruining everything. Let me know when you might be in Houston, I would love to read the book too.

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